Apple Patents Waterproofing Method 'For Shielding Electronic Components from Moisture'

by

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application created by Apple, detailing a method for the extensive waterproofing of various components within a device, possibly an iPhone, thus creating a completely waterproof smartphone without the need of a special case (via Patently Apple).

Originally filed in September of 2013, the patent application describes a "hydrophobic coating" to be layered onto integral parts within a device, like its printed circuit board. Apple describes achieving this using a "plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) process" that would adhere the coating substance onto the surface of the printed circuit board in such a way as to not take up much additional room in the already small casing of a smartphone.

waterproof patent

In the bigger picture, immersing electronic devices in water generally has predictably negative results. Through testing it has been determined that high voltage power components are more likely to short or malfunction after only brief exposure to liquids or moisture. More specifically, exposed metal areas having high voltage differentials in close proximity can easily experience short circuit events when corrosion or water immersion bridges the gap between such areas.

By providing an insulating layer or barrier around these highly susceptible parts, water resistance can be substantially increased without obscuring functional openings leading into a device housing of a particular electronic device. A thin hydrophobic (i.e., water resistant) conformal coating having a thickness between at least one and ten microns can be applied to a substrate using a plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) process. The PACVD process charges the surface of the substrate so that the coating can be bonded to the charged surface.

Though not completely waterproof as Apple's new patent intends a device to be, Tim Cook recently stated that the company's upcoming Apple Watch will in fact be a bit more water resistant than previously thought. He stated that he wears his personal Apple Watch everywhere, "even in the shower." If so, the Watch will be the company's first device with such a water resistant claim.

While the patent application doesn't specifically state what device the waterproof process could be attributed to, it's easy to see the company reasoning the method for use on iPhone and iPad. Although, like with all other patents, the practicality of a completely waterproof iPhone launching anytime soon is highly unlikely, but it's always an interesting glimpse behind the scenes regarding what the company may be considering for its future.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
71 months ago
Great.. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S7 is going to be waterproof again.. :rolleyes:
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago

Did Liquipel not patent this? They've been showing off the same technology at CES for a few years now...


I was wondering the same thing - how can this really deserve a patent when there are already similar solutions.

Further - liquipel seems more comprehensive than isolated to specific areas


Do people still not understand how patents work? I'm sure Liquipel patented their method for waterproofing. And here we see Apple patenting their own method. Ideas (like waterproofing a device) can't be patented. Only methods to do so can be patented.

Ideally there will be hundreds of different patented methods to accomplish an idea (from many different companies/entrepreneurs/innovators) and the best one wins in the marketplace. Then when the patents expire, humanity gets to use them all.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago

My Xoeria Z3 is waterproof. Why is Apple lagging here?

In my experience in the tech world, saying anything is waterproof suddenly gives consumers the attitude that the phone can be bashed about, freely used in the shower/bath, and generally they get angrier when it fails.

To advertise a product as 'waterproof' suddenly opens up a whole new world of problems - if the phone fails because the internal components are liquid damaged, would that be covered under warranty? Would there be grounds to go through consumer rights, because the phone was advertised as waterproofed and yet was damaged by water? Would liquid damage still not be covered under warranty, in which case why advertise it as being waterproof?

If liquid damage is covered under warranty on a phone advertised as being waterproof, then that means the manufacturer is accepting a much larger liability -- one that could simply be avoided by waterproofing the phone, but not advertising or confirming that this is the fact.

With the greatest of respect, Sony using and heavily advertising waterproofing on their Xperia Z3 as one of many features to try and stand out in a profit-struggling market (Android phones) is very different to the consistently top-selling iPhone suddenly becoming waterproofed. If Apple reject one warranty claim, then everybody will hear about it, the news will go ballistic, and they'll probably have a lawsuit on their hands. You must appreciate the difference.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago

Did Liquipel not patent this? They've been showing off the same technology at CES for a few years now...


If you read the patent, it describes a method for waterproofing, not a product for waterproofing.

Basically they give a negative or positive charge to a component, and then apply the plasma process with the opposite charge to create an extremely thin layer of protection.

This isn't a "we patented waterproofing" patent, which would not be valid anywhere. This is a patent for Apple's specific method of implementing waterproofing.

----------

Do people still not understand how patents work? I'm sure Liquipel patented their method for waterproofing. And here we see Apple patenting their own method. Ideas (like waterproofing a device) can't be patented. Only methods to do so can be patented.

Ideally there will be hundreds of different patented methods to accomplish an idea (from many different companies/entrepreneurs/innovators) and the best one wins in the marketplace. Then when the patents expire, humanity gets to use them all.


This guy gets it!

I don't understand why people don't get what a patent is.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago

Source? I never knew this.


Sounds like he's trolling.

Reminds me when people thought that iOS 7 (or was it 8?) made the phone unshatterable.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago
Just alerting you to the typo, hydroponic below is of course a typo for hydrophobic.

Keep up the good work x

Originally filed in September of 2013, the patent application describes a "hydroponic coating" to be layered onto integral parts within a device, like its printed circuit board. Apple describes achieving this using a "plasma-assisted
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

Google's $349 Pixel 4a vs. Apple's $399 iPhone SE

Wednesday August 5, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by
Google this week launched its newest smartphone, the $349 Pixel 4a, a low-cost device that's designed to compete with other affordable devices like Apple's iPhone SE. We picked up one of the new Pixel 4a smartphones and thought we'd check it out to see how it measures up to the iPhone SE, given that the two devices have such similar price points. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel ...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Z Fold 2, and Galaxy Buds to Compete With Apple's iPhones and AirPods Pro

Wednesday August 5, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Samsung today held a virtual Galaxy Unpacked event where it unveiled its next-generation smartphones that will compete with Apple's 2020 iPhone lineup, set to come out in the fall. Samsung announced the launch of the Galaxy Note 20 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the two newest devices in the Note lineup, and, more notably, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung's latest foldable smartphone. The...

Alleged 'iPhone 12' Images Depict Circular Array of Magnets in Chassis

Wednesday August 5, 2020 4:39 am PDT by
New images shared on Weibo appear to show a circular array of magnets housed inside an "iPhone 12" chassis. The unverified images depict 36 individual magnets in a circular arrangement, suggesting they could be related to mounting or charging. EverythingApplePro, who shared the Weibo-originating images on Twitter, also posted an image of an alleged iPhone 12 case with a similar array of...